Touchscreen devices are becoming increasingly popular in healthcare settings. Implementing the use of tablet computers, even as shared devices used for short-term surveys, could bring some surprising results.
So, why exactly do tablets and apps mean so much in the healthcare environment?
They are intuitiveTablet
Even the oldest of patients, the ones that grew up before even the desktop computer existed, can quickly get to grips with the tablet computer. Completing a survey requires nothing more than prodding and poking in the right place on the screen, fonts and images can be made bigger to assist those with failing eyesight and accompanying video footage might help to explain concepts that aren’t as easy to explain person-to-person.
The same applies not just to older people but also to younger patients that might struggle with typed questions and written forms. Instead of gathering second hand information through a parent or guardian, medical professionals can collect responses directly from the young person in question by using an intuitive tablet application. There are games on the market that can help to better understand a young patient, and new software can be developed at any time to meet specific needs.
They help to centralise data
An installed piece of software can automatically update a central record. This is a far more effective solution to gathering important data, which might otherwise be kept on paper. Storing survey results and feedback in the cloud can reduce concerns about lost data (as long as there are other backups in place), and in the unlikely event of a fire or another disaster the information will not be lost as it might have been whilst stored in paper format.
In addition, all of the stored information about each patient is immediately updated and can be accessed by any relevant healthcare professional on the premises or off.
They provide insight
Patients may tell their healthcare providers that they’re “fine” or “doing alright”, only for it to later be discovered that they’re not. In many cases, the healthcare provider never goes on to find out that they’ve been missing an important opportunity. Patients can be discharged from care before they’re in a fit state, and subjectivity is to blame in many cases.
Take a woman that has recently given birth to her first child, for example. A midwife, whose time is in high demand, may be rushing from one patient to the next. When the midwife pops his or her head around the curtain and asks “how are your stitches feeling?”, the words “not too bad” might be read as a positive response. In reality, the new mother has never experienced having stitches of that kind before and may have been expecting severe pain. To that mother, anything less than agony is considered to be a good place to be. A second time mother might know better, recognising that the same “not too bad” level of pain is actually worse than it should be, purely because of the benefit of previous experience.
Similar can apply in all other areas of physical health, and also in mental health settings where someone might be making comparisons based on their subjective point of view. Not experiencing suicidal ideation may lead a sufferer of BPD to think that they’re “doing alright”, when in fact a deeper look into their state of mind might raise more than a few red flags. We cannot realistically expect people to put their own feelings on an objective scale, though for time-pressed medical professionals leaving a tablet survey with a patient for 10 minutes can give a far deeper insight than a quick “how are you?”, with no extra time required of the healthcare provider. It’s then easy to identify those patients that need a little more care and attention.
Handheld technologies, far from being anti-social as some might think, have the potential to make almost any healthcare setting more personal, more thorough and more effective.